Michigan Tech hosts summit on the future of forestry in the U.P.

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - Bringing new business to Upper Michigan is the goal of a summit at Michigan Technological University. It's focused on Upper Peninsula forests.

"There's been a lot of interest on both sides," said Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute Executive Director Mark Rudnicki.

Finland is one of the leaders in Europe in the production of forest bioproducts. In the United States, and specifically the Upper Peninsula, companies have stuck to more traditional approaches, like paper production. The Finnish companies shared their next generation practices.

"In the bioproduct areas the Finns are now beginning to develop things like packaging, plastic replacement, textiles, all of these things that can help reduce CO2 emissions worldwide," said Patrick Visser, Co-Director of the FinnZone.

The hope is, companies from both nations will work together to create production in the Upper Peninsula. That can mean new companies opening in Michigan, or existing Finnish companies making their way to the U.P.

"Some of that could be sharing technology, licensing, could be establishing satellite partners out here,” said Rudnicki. “So we're not sure how that's going to get shaped yet."

The connection was a no brainer for organizers. With dense forests, and a deep Finnish heritage, they say the Upper Peninsula is the perfect location for bioproduct manufacturing.

"It's a combination of all those things,” said Visser. “It's our shared history, our shared values, the beauty of the area and then the fact that we're a strategic fit for certain industries such as bioproducts."

The summit concludes Thursday with both sides working on a strategic plan to bring their idea to life.

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